Thursday, August 18, 2011
A Story About Nothing
I have been told that in California, if a pedestrian steps into a street, cars will stop.
I will tell you that as a New Yorker, it's every man or woman for himself or herself. Cars, regardless of laws or unfair size advantage, will compete with you for the roadway and will nearly run you down. And, traffic or not, we run through intersections without walk lights in our favor and dodge traffic.
In addition to issues of impatience waiting for walk lights, we also have a condition here of such severe crowds on the sidewalks, that many resort to walking in the curb or even in the roadway itself. Bicyclists are also aggressive. For some, these brazen acts of pedestrian and vehicular defiance confer Street Cred.
In 1998, Mayor Rudy Giuliani, as part of his Quality of Life campaign, decided to initiate a crackdown on jaywalking. This short-lived effort was rather laughable and barely enforced, with only 99 tickets being issued that year. New York City is not Singapore.
The reckless attitude of motorists towards pedestrians does not end with civilians. Police can also be rather overzealous. In Washington Square Park, for example, many are displeased with the rather aggressive habits of many officers speeding through narrow pedestrian walkways inside the park.
In the 1970s, my girlfriend was arrested for kicking a police car with her roller skates. An altercation had occurred between a police officer and a skater who was tapping electricity from a lamppost to power his boombox for playing music for roller skaters. A chase ensued, backup police were called, and a police vehicle came careening recklessly into the park, nearly hitting pedestrians. My girlfriend, furious at the near hit, kicked and dented the squad car with her skates and was arrested along with the perpetrator.
Ever the city of opportunity and opportunists, here on the highways, in moving traffic with little clearance, we have sellers of fruit, flowers, and water. I rarely need the flowers or water, but now I regret not having purchased a bag of fruit.* It would have made a nice snack, perhaps a quick chat with the vendor, and not have left me with a story about nothing :)
*I believe the fruit is Melicoccus bijugatus, grown over a wide area of the tropics, including South and Central America, Mexico, the Caribbean, parts of Africa and the Pacific. It is called Spanish lime, chenette, guaya, guinea, genip, genipe, quenepa, mamoncillo, mamón, ackee, skinnip, kenepa, xenepa, canapé, knippa, limoncillo, anoncillo, or honeyberry.
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